Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, yesterday stopped the officials of the Department of State Services from arresting the Founder and General Overseer of The Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide, Apostle Johnson Suleiman, in Ado Ekiti.
Suleiman, who is said to be in Ekiti for a two-day power pack crusade that began on Tuesday, was reported to have condemned the attempt to Islamise Nigeria and asked members of his church to resist the killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
He was reported to have maintained that the killings were targeted at decimating the Christian population.
Fayose, who had participated in the first day of the programme, was said to have received a distress call from the pastor after paying a courtesy call to the Government House.
It was learnt that the operatives of the DSS stormed the hotel room of the pastor in the Adebayo area of the State capital and attempted to force their way to his room.
They were, however, resisted by security men of the hotel that insisted on knowing their mission.
Minutes later, Fayose led a rescue mission to the hotel and saved the pastor from being arrested by the operatives.
Narrating his ordeal to journalists around 2am on Wednesday, Suleiman said, “I came to Ado Ekiti for a crusade; but I had a premonition that I was being trailed after I preached that Christians should revenge any attack or killings by the Fulani herdsmen.
These Fulani herdsmen have turned many Christians to orphans and widows but the time has come to protect ourselves.
“I received several calls from hidden numbers trying to locate where I am and I had warned my security not to allow any Fulani man to come nearer me. So, when the men of DSS came in the middle of the night, I knew their mission and I had to call the Governor because if they arrest me, they will put this country on fire.”
Fayose, who criticised the DSS for ambushing a man of God during a crusade, said he expected the security agency to show decorum.
The governor added, “I expect the security operatives to invite him if they have any issue with him instead of arresting him in the dead of the night after a powerful and spirit-filled crusade in my state.
“I personally attended his crusade and I think it is wrong that a man of God, who is harmless, who could be invited, to be ambushed.
“Are Christians and Moslems under different dispensations of the rule of law?. That’s why I went there to rescue him. Let them kill two of us together. But when they saw my vehicles and the crowd, they fled.
“But we have information that instructions came from DSS in Abuja that the Pastor should be arrested. We are not in a fascist state. The Federal Government must learn to respect the rights of Nigerians and freedom of expression.”
The governor expressed concerns that the Federal Government was championing a cause to harass clergymen in the country, noting that the General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, was harassed and forced to resign shortly after he visited him in Ado Ekiti.
“This is unacceptable. We are in a democracy and Nigerians should warn the Presidency against putting this country on fire because religion is an emotional thing,” he said.
Fayose also warned security operatives against intimidating and arresting men of God in the interest of peace and religious harmony in the country, stressing that “the constitution guarantees freedom of worship.”
Suleiman, however, denied instructing Christians in a sermon to go after Muslims.
Describing the report as not only senseless but malicious, he said his statements were misconstrued to incite the people.
Speaking in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday on the contentious issue, Suleiman debunked the report linking him to inflammatory remarks, adding that it was sinful for anyone to order a fellow man to kill another.
He said, “They said I preached in Auchi two weeks ago, which they said implied that I was instigating Christians against Muslims. I have always been an advocate of peace and I can’t stay around and be saying such. There are widows and orphans that we take care of. No leader will see his shepherds being killed and be happy.
“Later, I got anonymous calls from Fulani herdsmen about what I said. What I said was that if gunmen came around the church to attack churches, you must defend yourself, but if they come to pray, don’t attack.
“But they quoted me out of context. I am not stupid, I live among the crowd and I am not senseless. Time for self defence has come. Whether you are a Muslim or Christian, someone can’t just come to your house and kill your children and you will keep quiet.
“I said the Christians must not go after them, but if they come after us, then defend yourselves.”
He added, “If this will make them to clarify what I meant, I can present the video of my preaching. A town in Aviele in Edo State, Muslims rushed into the church and chased away all church members.
“I have always been preaching that youths must not kill. It was even wrong for the police or security agency to be coming around me and be saying I preached that I said Christians should kill Muslims without any verifiable facts.
He believed the continuous killings in Kaduna underscored the insinuations that there was a deliberate attempt in the country to frustrate Christians.
“This Kaduna crisis confirms that there is a deliberate attempt to frustrate Christians. The National Assembly must not fold their arms and see this happen. But I have no grudge against Buhari or the DSS. They are only doing their job, but the DSS did it wrongly,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of the Nigeria Advance Party, Mr. Tosin Odeyemi, has condemned the DSS invasion of the hotel where Suleiman was lodged in Ado Ekiti.
In his reaction to the foiled attempt by the DSS to arrest Suleiman, Odeyemi said the nation would be thrown into crisis if the DSS continued with its excessive use of force especially against the Christians.
Odeyemi said, “I am speaking in my personal capacity and as a prophet of God. This Daura people (DSS) should not start religious war in Nigeria, and I think the President is listening. They should not provoke us further because we will react.
“Nigeria belongs to us all. What offence did Apostle Suleiman commit?
“What do they expect him to do? When a criminal comes to kill you, the DSS expect him to fold his arms and bless them. No Christian leader will do that now; that is past tense. We will protect ourselves and react if they drive us to that point.”a